Wayne Salmon, here with his grandson Beckett, was one of 6,941, who cast an early ballot during the 2018 municipal election. General election day is Saturday, Oct. 20 (Wolf Depner/News staff)

Advance poll turnout way up for Saturday’s election

Interest in voting early evident across Vancouver Island

Either interest is growing in civic elections on Vancouver Island, or an increasing number of you just wanted to get it out of the way.

Advance poll numbers from several Island communities are in, and turnout seems to be up — significantly in many cases.

RELATED: Election 2014: Advance voting turnout up

In Nanaimo — home to one of the most troubled councils in recent memory — the second day of advance polls Wednesday saw citizens lined up a long way to get to the ballot box.

“It was a record breaking turnout for advance polls with over 5,000 ballots cast over the two days,” noted Sheila Gurrie, the city’s chief election officer, in a press release. “Thank you to all those who have voted so far. We appreciate your patience as you waited in line.”

As a comparison, the city notes that 2,262 votes were cast in advance polls in 2014.

In Parksville, 1,535 people voted in two advance polls, more than double the total in 2014.

And in Saanich almost 7,000 residents voted early, equal to nearly 25 per cent of the entire 2014 turnout.

“We’re really pleased to see an increase from our 2014 advance voter turnout,” said Angila Bains, chief election officer. “I encourage all of the eligible voters in Saanich who haven’t yet voted to head to a polling station on Saturday. Don’t miss your opportunity to make your voice heard.”

Figures from the City of Victoria show 4,789 residents voted early. A total of 3,410 people cast their ballots early in 2014.

A total of 1,493 Colwood residents voted early in 2018 — a figure that represents just over 50 per cent of the total votes (2,940) cast in 2014.

A total of 1,382 Sooke residents voted early in 2018 — up from 1,184 in 2014.

A total of 2,028 residents in Sidney cast their ballots early in 2018 — up almost 100 per cent from 2014 when 1,045 cast early ballots.

The actual voting day is Oct. 20. In addition to voting for local councils and regional districts, most Vancouver Islanders will also be voting for school trustees and may be asked their direction on community-specific referendum questions. Voters can cast their ballots throughout the day Saturday, with almost all polls open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Check the website of your local municipality or with Elections BC for more information.

Anyone who is a Canadian citizen at least 18 years old can vote, provided they have lived in B.C. for at least six months and have lived locally at least 30 days and are not disqualified by law from voting.

Voters will be asked to provide two pieces of identification, at least one with a signature, proving both residency and identity.

— with files from Black Press

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